Can’t Lose What You Give Away
By Julie Allen–
Editor’s Note: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the month our staff publishes the Surviving Cancer magazine. This month as well as each month of the year we remember our co-workers that fought this dreaded disease, along with our family members, including contributing writer Julie Allen who was kind enough to share her father’s battle and survival. So to Julie and her father, the staff and families of The Weekly thank you, dear friend, for sharing.
In 2007, David Burton retired from Continental Tire and eagerly welcomed a more relaxed schedule. He fished, played with the grandkids, and let his hair grow long.
Eight years into retirement, however, Burton was diagnosed with colon cancer. Faced with surgery and the likelihood of chemotherapy, he started thinking about what it would be like to lose his hair, which by that time had grown well past shoulder length. “I hated to waste it,” he said.
Burton learned about the Locks of Love organization from his barber. Locks of Love is a not-for-profit organization which “utilizes donated ponytails to provide hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children, free of charge” (www.locksoflove.org). The idea of donating his hair to help a child appealed to Burton. “My wife and I, we’ve always given to the Cancer Society, a little bit financially,” he explained, “but [donating hair] would mean so much more to a little kid.” He paused then added, “Because kids get cancer, too.”
Donating his hair became part of Burton’s preparation for surgery.
The barber “put it in a ponytail and whacked it off,” he grinned. He walked out of the shop with almost 13 inches of ponytail in a Ziploc bag, then mailed it to Locks of Love. Not long afterward, he received a card from the organization, thanking him for his willingness to “go to great lengths” to help a child.
Burton still has the card from Locks of Love, along with other notes he received during his year of chemo treatments. “I appreciate all of them,” he said, “and all the prayers.” Above all, he thanks his wife of 47 years, Becky. “During the 17 days I was in the hospital,” he recalled, “she never left my side.”
When asked how the experience has changed him, Burton said, “I think I’ve become closer to God because of this thing.” After losing two siblings to cancer in 2012, then facing his own battle with the disease in 2015, he is deeply grateful to be in remission now. To those currently fighting cancer he says, “Take it one day at a time. You’ll look at all these things, the surgery, the chemo, all of it, and you just have to remember to take it one day at a time.”
Wise words from a man who figured out how to keep from losing his hair to cancer. He simply gave it away.